I felt compelled to respond to the recently published YDN article “Yale affiliates not worried by new rules for visiting Chinese diplomats” precisely because the article interviewed Stephen Roach.
In the article, Stephen S. Roach, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, undercuts the State Department’s directive for screening Chinese diplomats on college campuses. This is not surprising, considering Roach has stumped for Chinese Communist Party lines before as evident in his CGTN, People’s Daily and Xinhua News appearances, three “media” outlets that officially serve as mouthpieces for the Chinese Communist Party.
Roach dismisses the directive and other reciprocal containing actions against the CCP simply as political tools wielded by President Trump, against exhaustive evidence of the CCP’s wide and growing interference in American universities. Trump’s directive could certainly be a political stunt, but that does not mean the allegations of CCP interference are unfounded. Roach has been a vocal critic of Trump — but where’s that outspokenness when it comes to Xi Jinping, the leader of the Chinese party that has consistently instituted genocidal policies against ethnic populations? As a relatively popular China wonk, I find it bizarre that I’ve yet to see Roach’s critical eye upon Xi nor find any denunciations of the highly publicized Xinjiang concentration camps from him.
I spoke to a Yale student who took Roach’s “Next China” course and found it appalling that Roach conflated American app surveillance to Xinjiang surveillance. The student also said he felt that Roach downplayed the concentration camps in the fall of 2019.
To note, Roach has called the Hong Kong Democracy Protests “anarchy,” placing the blame of the protests on the protesters instead of on the CCP, its alarming extradition bill and human rights abuses of Hong Kong protesters.
I would not be surprised if other Jackson Institute for Global Affairs fellows and other professors for the matter declined to be interviewed by the Yale Daily News because of the very real self-censorship regarding China that occurs on college campuses. I am not saying Roach should be censored, but because of worldwide declining media literacy, reporters should note Stephen Roach’s history of painting rosy pictures of China and its strongman governance despite contrary evidence.
KELSANG DOLMA is a 2019 graduate of Pierson College who works at the Office of Tibet-DC. She recently published “Tibet Was China’s First Laboratory of Repression” in Foreign Policy Magazine.